Cognition, Creativity, and Behavior: Selected Essays

By Robert Epstein | Go to book overview

9
"INSIGHT" IN THE PIGEON: ANTECEDENTS AND DETERMINANTS OF AN INTELLIGENT PERFORMANCE

Summary. In 1917 Wolfgang Köhler observed some rather extraordinary instances of problem solving by a number of chimpanzees ( Köhler, 1925), and his observations have been the subject of controversy ever since ( Chance, 1960; Weisberg & Alba, 1981). The period of quiescence that sometimes preceded the solution, its sudden onset, and its smooth, continuous emergence were proffered as evidence that (a) contrary to suggestions of learning theorists of the day, problem solving was not necessarily a trial-and-error process, and (b) constructs such as "insight" were necessary for an adequate account ( Duncker, 1945; Ellen, 1982; Köhler, 1925; Maier, 1931a). In an attempt to shed further light on these issues, we replicated with pigeons a classic problem with which Köhler confronted his chimpanzees. Pigeons who had acquired relevant skills solved the problem in a remarkably chimpanzee-like (and, perforce, human-like) fashion. The possible contributions of different experiences were determined by varying the training histories of different birds. We offer a tentative moment-to-moment account of a successful performance.

Köhler placed a banana out of reach in one corner of a room and a small wooden crate about 2.5 m from the position on the floor beneath it. After a number of fruitless attempts by all six chimpanzees in the room to jump for the banana, one of them paced for several minutes, then suddenly moved the box half a meter from the position of the banana "and springing upwards with all his force, tore down the banana" ( Köhler, 1925). Both research ( Birch, 1945) and theory ( Hull, 1935) suggest that chimpanzees will not solve problems of this sort if they have not first had certain experiences. We speculated that two behaviors had to have been acquired: pushing objects toward targets and climbing on objects to each other objects. Since a pigeon normally does neither, it seemed an ideal candidate to test the contribution that previous learning might make to success in this problem.

Eleven adult male pigeons served as subjects. Each was maintained at about 80 percent of the weight it would achieve given free access to food. Most had had a variety of laboratory experience, but none had ever been used in a problem-solving experiment. Birds 269WP and 270WP were racing Homers; the others were White Carneaux. All sessions were conducted in a cylindrical wiremesh chamber 69 cm in diameter, except those of birds 110YP, 233WP, and

-83-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Cognition, Creativity, and Behavior: Selected Essays
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 362

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.